Monday, June 29, 2015

Exploring Historic New Bern, NC {2015}

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Our travels across the state began in the historic city of New Bern, NC.  New Bern has a long and rich history as one of the earliest established towns in the state.  It was founded in 1710, closely following the first established town of Bath in 1705.  New Bern's interesting history began when Baron Christophe DeGraffenried, a native of Bern, Switzerland, first read about the area in Englishman John Lawson's 1709 publication "A New Voyage to Carolina."  The area had already been settled for some time by a Native American tribe known as the Neusiak.  The area is located where the Trent and Neuse Rivers meet close to where they flow into the Pamlico Sound.  Baron DeGraffenried brought Swiss immigrants and German Palatine refugees looking to escape severe hardships in their own countries and make a fresh start in the colony of North Carolina.  Baron DeGraffenried named his new settlement New Bern after his old hometown and hoped it would bring good fortune to his new home.  New Bern still boasts many reminders of its Swiss heritage, such as the four-sided clock tower on the Town Hall building and the flag of its parent city.  In 2010, New Bern celebrated its 300th anniversary of its founding in 1710, and in celebration, it endorsed the placement of beautifully painted bear statues all over the town.  We enjoyed hunting for those bears.

New Bern's interesting history does not stop at its founding.  You will find a treasure trove of centuries old churches, houses, schools, and even a palace all telling the town's story.


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Historic registry signs are located all over town to help educate about the town's rich history.  

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This lovely old church sits in the middle of downtown and just adds so much charm and romantic appeal with its moss draped trees.

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While you may prefer to drink Coca-Cola in other parts of the world, here in New Bern you have to appreciate their beloved Pepsi.  In 1893, a local pharmacist, Caleb Bradham, created a refreshing beverage locally known as Brad's Drink.  Although this refreshment would not carry the official Pepsi-Cola name until 1898 and later the Pepsi name in 1961, the citizens of New Bern have been enjoying it for over 100 years.  Pepsi just celebrated its 50th year in 2011.  

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My boys don't often get to enjoy the sweet taste of carbonated beverages, but they had to enjoy a little Pepsi fountain drink in this shop for history's sake. 

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Strolling along the streets of this old town really does feel like you stepped back in time.  

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The city also has a rich history shared by people of many different ethnic orgins.  The King Solomon Lodge was the First African American Masonic Lodge in North Carolina.  The town was also the site of the first regiment of black Union soldiers during the Civil War .  It also boast the earliest roots in public education with the New Bern Academy being chartered in 1766.  
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George H. White was a prominent African American citizen of New Bern.  He was born into slavery and went on to become a lawyer, a North Carolina legislator, and a U.S. Congressman.  The blue house was his childhood home.  The cream colored house below is the home of Major John Daves, Revolutionary War officer.  
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John Wright Stanly's house is a beautiful, original colonial house built in the early 1780s. President Washington stayed in the home in 1791 on his Southern Tour.

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Evan posing with a sweet little statue of Jesus with the little children gathered around him.  The statue is safely kept behind glass outside of a little church across from Cedar Grove Cemetery.  The Masonic Temple and adjoining Theater have a colorful history.  The 1805 Masonic Theater is the oldest American theater in continuous use.  This was also the site of a famous duel between Richard Dobbs Spaight, a signer of the U.S. Constitution and former governor of North Carolina, and John Stanly, Jr., a lawyer and politician and political adversary of Spaight's.  Spaight was killed in the duel.  

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We took a ride on the New Bern Trolley to see and hear more of New Bern's history.  It was a hot ride, but Daddy kept Mattox cool by pouring water onto a cloth on his head.  The New Bern Trolley Co started in the early 1900's when townsfolk thought the town was headed for metropolis status.  New Bern was called the "Athens of the South."  

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Cedar Grove Cemetery is a center of history in itself.  It's beautiful centuries old monuments just speak of Old Southern charm and beauty along with the moss draped trees hanging overhead.  

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The entrance gates of the cemetery were erected in 1854 after the cemetery was deeded to the city by Christ Church.  The walls are made of local tabby stone which hold water, and the entry was named the "Weeping Arch."  Superstitious legend says that whoever passes through the arch and feels the "tears" spill upon them will be the next one passing through the gate in a casket.  Yikes!  
Fun at the Cow Cafe

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This cute little establishment in downtown New Bern was the perfect place for a cool refreshment and some cool indoor fun. 

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Evan and I enjoyed our yummy milkshakes, and Brody devoured his little ice cream sundae. 

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It was a little hot to fully enjoy the beauty of Union Point Park, but Brody loved climbing on these bears that were in the shade. 

4 comments:

  1. I really think I need to go here now. I am going to show Jason this post. =)

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  2. We've been wanting to visit New Bern, and Tryon Palace for a few months now. Looking at your pictures, I can't wait now!

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  3. This is going on my list of places to visit when we next get to North Carolina :) This looks like such an interesting, unique town. And I guess I'll have to drink a Pepsi :) Ha ha ha!

    On a serious note, I hope no water dripped on you when you passed through the cemetery's gates. Yeeks.

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  4. What a very cool place this New Bern (that I have NEVER heard of) is. I might even take a sip of Pepsi and let my kids do the same if we visited.

    I love all of the pictures of the cute, charming old houses. I could do without the old cemetery though. I will visit them, but they really creep me out.

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